Suicides, disputes spur probe of Bragg WTU
By Joe Gould - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Mar 4, 2012 9:27:37 EST
In the wake of six suicides and 25 domestic disputes reported among soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C., over a five-week span, 18th Airborne Corps commander Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick has called for a thorough investigation of the posts Warrior Transition Battalion.
Helmicks announcement followed an emotional meeting between a dozen wounded soldiers, spouses and other advocates Feb. 15. The group voiced complaints about the alleged overmedication of soldiers in the warrior transition battalion and their inability to get the care they need.
Toni Woodman-Mc-Neill told officials at the meeting that her soldier husband was denied needed surgeries while his condition deteriorated and his dependence on pain medication increased. Her husband, Sgt. Lee McNeill, 43, suffers from cognitive problems, post-traumatic stress disorder and spinal injuries from an explosion while he deployed to Iraq, she said.
The problem is when [injured soldiers are] going to be med-boarded out, they stop medical treatment and just give them pain medication, Woodman-McNeill told Army Times. I had to give up my career to take care of him because they werent taking care of him.
In another case, a former paratrooper assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion fired at police and firefighters outside his home last month, local police said. The soldier, Staff Sgt. Joshua Eisenhauer, was shot by police and has been in custody since the Jan. 24 incident. He faces 15 counts of attempted first-degree murder and other charges.
The investigation of the Warrior Transition Battalion which Army officials are terming an inspection is being conducted by the 18th Airborne Corps inspector general, Col. Maggie Dunn.
At Fort Bragg, Woodman-McNeill said she had to fight with her husbands superiors to get him spinal surgery, and he is awaiting surgery for one of his shoulders. Meanwhile, she said, he has been on a cocktail of medications that alter his moods and sleeping patterns.
Instead of giving him medications and fixing the problem, they keep feeding him pain medications, she said. At one point a doctor told me, Theres nothing wrong with your husband. So I told him, If theres nothing wrong, why are you making him a drug addict?
Dogs and cats get better care by veterinarians than soldiers do, said retired Navy Cmdr. Bill Manofsky of California.
Manofsky said he has been fighting for better military medical care since 2003. He said he helped expose abuse and mistreatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2004.
That abuse led to the formation of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg and 34 others around the country.
The Silver Star Families of America has started an investigation into all WTU’s.
The results so far are horrific.